Boldness has gotten the buzzword treatment lately. It's among the most important leadership traits along with passion and innovation. When you're looking to achieve your dreams and reach your goals, you've got to be bold and resilient in the face of obstacles and naysayers.
But the concept of boldness also has a "dark side." Some see boldness as a sign of leadership and making tough decisions — doing things your own way despite it being unpopular or countercultural. But boldness can also be misconstrued as agression. Some use the blanket of boldness to excuse their bullying tactics and a take-over mentality.
That's why I often see clients on either side of the fence. Whether you're getting in the way of your own boldness or you feel forced to have a strong-hold on every situation, navigating these waters can be tricky.
In life, we understand boldness through instinct. We value our power to help ourselves and others. We crave self-empowerment and can't escape our need for the appreciation of others. It's a mamallian sentiment that we simply can't escape, so why not learn to harness it and do some good with it?
What's strictly human is our amazing reasoning abilities. We're so bogged down by our self-directed language that most of us don't naturally recognize our inherent boldness, despite it being a God-given birthright. Society teaches us to put our story on the backburner so we can blend in with the crowd. To some of us it feels uncomfortable or outright uncouth to be brash and confident. So eventually, when we receive the call to boldness in our work or personal lives, it feels like we're stepping into uknown territory.
The road to boldness comes in different forms for different people. Most of us implement ideas from mentors, friends, or books. But the common schema is assertion. We take charge of our lives in some way or another. We start with small things that make us feel more bold. We share the odd unpopular opinion becuase it's what we truly believe — we can't help it. We do things our own way despite the distance it might create between us and the people we know. We start to associate with people that pick us up instead of putting us down.
But that's why boldness is so good for us. People are magnetized to boldness. People pick up on your confidence and they hold a mirror to you, reflecting your confidence through their respect and admiration. Our confidence grows through the people that we impact.
The Importance of Putting Your Foot Down
I'm not saying that boldness is the only right way to live, but we have an obligation to ourselves to reframe what's agressive and what's assertive. Remove any negative connotation that you may have attached to that word in the past. Aggressive and assertive are two very different things, believe me. And asserting yourself can be the first step to stepping into who you have always been. A sign that you're mixing your signals is when you're a people pleaser. If you see "no," as an agression instead of a simple denial, you might not be standing up for yourself as much as you think.
Once you make that distinction, you will stop hesitating on things – you will actually get up and do all those things you’ve been putting off. You may find yourself doing things that are not expected of you – not by you and not by those who know you (or think they know you). Don't be afraid. If you're not hurting anyone and bringing joy into your life, you've discovered the whole point of boldness. Move forward – no apologies and no excuses.
You may find that ‘no’ becomes an important part of your vernacular. It's scary to a lot of people. Many of my clients have felt that people like them because they're people-pleasers. I think the opposite. People respect those who respect themselves. You will start saying ‘no’ out of respect for yourself instead of doing things for others simply because they asked it.
I am NOT advising against being kind. There is nothing wrong with doing great things for others — it enriches your life. What I am saying is that, if it's getting in the way of your needs and preventing you from being your best, consider rethinking it.
A few of the biggest pluses to boldness are that you’ll be much more daring when it comes to asking for what you want. You begin to take more risks with the asks and those risks will pay off big time as you begin to open the doors to new opportunities which may not have existed before. You will also sharpen your negotiation skills many times over. There is nothing that makes your negotiation skills stronger than growing a backbone — you can count on it.
Stay tuned for part two of the Bold series next week.